Please immunize your child following the schedule advised by his or her pediatrician.
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the following diseases are preventable using vaccinations:
Haemophilus influenzaetype b
Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
Rubella (German Measles)
According to the World Health Organization, “4.4 million children under the age of 5 died from infectious diseases in 2010, nearly all of which were preventable.” Bear in mind, death from measles had been cut by 74% from the prior ten years. http://www.who.int/research/en/ Which means that even with a vast improvement statistically, far too many children are dying.
In developing countries, the reason is clear: vaccines cost money both for the sera and for someone to administer it. Developing nations don’t have the money. Many groups are trying to rectify this situation: the United Nations Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ShotAtLife.org, and Rotary International (to name a few).
Considering that these diseases can maim and kill, why is it that U.S. citizens with access to adequate medical care are not always vaccinating their children? Or if they do vaccinate, they wait past the time that their pediatrician recommends? The main reason is the Autism Spectrum/thimerosal scare of the late 1990′s.
According to a study (I have been unable to find) published in the British medical journal The Lancet (I have not been able to verify either the study or that it was published anywhere), thimerosal, which was once used as a preservative for the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, caused Autism. Around the time of the (alleged) study, rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder were (and I believe still are) rising. Naturally, this news frightened parents a great deal. Because measles, mumps, and rubella (and a large portion of vaccine-preventable diseases) seemed to be a thing of the past, some parents felt that there was no need to prevent them anymore and that, in fact, doing so would give their child autism. Other parents felt that it would be best to immunize after age 3 (when autism usually becomes apparent). Sadly, this completely misguided thinking gained traction until mass outbreaks of preventable diseases started in the U.S.
According to “Autism” a study by Prof. Susan Levy, MD, David S. Mandell, ScD, and Prof. Robert T. Schultz, PhD. published in The Lancet, Volume 374, Issue 9701, Pages 1627 – 1638 on 7 November 2009, “Increases over time in the frequency of these disorders (to present rates of about 60 cases per 10,000 children) might be attributable to factors such as new administrative classifications, policy and practice changes, and increased awareness. …Autism spectrum disorders are highly genetic and multifactorial, with many risk factors acting together.” http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)61376-3/abstract
As far back as 24 January 2003, the WHO (World Health Organization) came out with a report stating, “…no evidence exists of a causal association between MMR vaccine and autism or autistic disorders.” http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/topics/mmr/mmr_autism/en/ and the CDC “supports the IOM [Institute of Medicine] conclusion that there is no relationship between vaccines containing thimerosal and autism rates in children. The IOM also recently conducted a thorough review of the current medical and scientific evidence on vaccines and certain health events that may be observed after vaccination. It released a report in August 2011 on 8 vaccines given to children and adults that found the vaccines to be generally safe and serious adverse events following these vaccinations to be rare.” http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Concerns/Autism/Index.html and just to be on the safe side, thimerosal was removed from childhood vaccines or only used in trace amounts or used in vaccines that offered a thimerosal-free option as of 2001.
So far as why scheduling is so important – infants have a brief window in which they are naturally immunized from their mothers. After that time, if the baby contracts a preventable illness there is a much higher risk of complications, life-long crippling, or death. This is why it is so critical to follow your pediatrician’s advice. (Also, there are specific reasons not to immunize relating to genetic susceptibility to complications – so listen to your pediatrician.)
For a very interesting look at the life and work of a polio survivor read, “Ann Lee Hussey Will Not Sit Down,” by Jan Goodwin in Real Simple Magazine’s June 2012 issue. http://www.realsimple.com